Richard Gere, the Hollywood superstar, along with several other Tibetan activists and human rights experts, testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) to condemn China for its “genocide,” “crimes against humanity,” and “longstanding brutality” in Tibet.
Gere, who is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the International Campaign for Tibet, revealed how the Chinese Communist Party has co-opted Tibetan Buddhism, trapped Tibetan nomads in “New Socialist Villages,” and separated Tibetan students from their parents through the coercive boarding school system, designed to distance Tibetan children from their language and traditional faith.
Gere also joined a rally on Capitol Hill to mark the annual Tibet Lobby Day, where Tibetan organizations primarily advocated for lawmakers to reintroduce a bill known as the Resolve Tibet Act (RTA), which would require the Chinese Communist Party to consent to negotiations with the Dalai Lama, the head of Tibetan Buddhism.
China invaded and colonized Tibet in 1951 and has been devising policies to subjugate the indigenous population for decades, emphasizing the eradication of Tibetan Buddhism, which forced the Dalai Lama into exile in India and caused the disappearance of the then-six-year-old Panchen Lama, another high-ranking living Buddha, in 1995. The human rights organization Freedom House ranked Tibet, alongside Syria and South Sudan, as the least free territory in the world in its annual “Freedom in the World” report published this month.
In his testimony to Congress, Gere highlighted the modern aspects of China’s persecution of Tibetans, especially the use of pervasive surveillance technology and the documentation of the DNA of most ethnic Tibetans by the government. He accused China of committing acts of genocide against the Tibetans, as well as contemporary actions that match the definition of crimes against humanity.
Once a ubiquitous superstar, Gere began fading from the public eye after his activism against Chinese communism grew louder, culminating in an appearance at the 1993 Academy Awards in which he condemned China’s gross human rights abuses on stage.
In his remarks to Congress, Gere urged lawmakers to pass bills that would pressure China into negotiations with the Dalai Lama and work to prevent American companies from assisting the development of mass surveillance and other technology used to repress Tibetans.
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